Aconcagua Viento Blanco Expedition – 6962 m
The Aconcagua Experience on a Budget
Seemingly infinite valleys, huge glaciers and ice fields – add to that some 60 mph wind – and you get the perfect Aconcagua experience, a climb that will take you to the highest peak on the Western Hemisphere.
Viento Blanco or “white wind” comes from the meteorological phenomenon characteristic of this mountain. It’s the result of fog mixing with some botheringly high winds blowing snow. Aconcagua is a trekking peak, but due to its climate and the nearly 7000 meter altitude, it requires tons of experience on behalf of the expedition leader. Your ClimbBig guides with experience on several 8,000 meter mountains will assist you in reaching Aconcagua and – if you so wish – coach and point you in the right direction for a possible 8000er.
This Aconcagua expedition is a real one, meaning you take part in a few local logistical activities so that you get a taste of what it’s like to plan and run an expedition. You don’t get everything ready-made, placed under your butt. You have to pitch your own tent, cook your own food. This way it’s more fulfilling, more fun, more real.
Is this trip for you?
Day 1: Arrival in Mendoza
We meet you at the airport at the Eastern foothills of the Andes in the city of Mendoza. From there, you and your guide get in a cab and off you go to the friendly hostel, a popular gathering place for climbers and backpackers.
Day 2: Mendoza – Prepare for the Expedition
Feel free to sleep in today. There’s a bit of light bureaucracy to be taken care of, namely, getting the climbing permits, for which everyone on the team has to show up in person at the office. After you’ve pocketed the permit for the national park, we’re off to shop for the expedition. Your guide has prepared a detailed list of what foods to purchase. The team heads to a local market and the grocery store where you do your shopping for the trip.
Day 3: Trip to Puente del Inca (2,750 m)
The “Bridge of the Inca” is where the 5-6 hour busride takes us today. These ruins lie just a few miles from the Chilean border. You stay in a refuge tonight. But not so fast to sleep, as today is the first acclimatisation trip, a hike to 3,800 meters. Overnight at the refuge hut.
Day 4: Puente del Inca (2,750 m) – Cerro Quebrada Blanca (4,203 m) – Puente del Inca (2,750 m)
Another fantastic acclimatisation hike is on schedule today; you should expect to summit in about 6 hours, from where you’ll get your first perfect glance of Aconcagua. The hike itself is technically easy, but as you can see, there is a considerable amount of vertical involved – 1,500 meters. In the evening, you can visit a thermal bath to soothe out your muscles.
Day 5: Puente del Inca (2,750 m) – Confluencia (3,300 m)
Today, you hand over the heavier portion of your luggage to some friendly and helpful donkeys as you start your climb on the route to the base camp of Aconcagua. Today’s hike is pretty short, about 5 hours, and you’ll be carrying no more than about 15-20 kg of stuff on the 550 meters of vertical. Overnight in tents.
Day 6: Confluencia (3,300 m) – Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m)
The “Mules’ Square” is an 8-hour trek from Confluencia. The mules are a bit faster than you, so your stuff will already be waiting at 4,260 meters, your next camp. At about an hour’s walk from camp, there is a refuge where you can take a shower for about 8 dollars. It may get colder at this altitude, but the temperature probably won’t drop below freezing levels in your tent.
From here, you carry your own pack, as the four-legged friends can’t proceed any further up the mountain. The Plaza de Mulas will serve as your base camp for the coming week. It’s a huge base camp; we’ve only seen a comparably large one at Everest. There’s even internet access in some tents here.
Day 7: Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m) – Cerro Bonete (5,100 m) – Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m)
Bonete Peak offers some more stunning views from ,meters. You get some pretty amazing glimpses of the Andes, more than what you could wish for on an acclimatisation climb. Descend back to Plaza de Mulas for the night in your tent.
Day 8: Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m) – Plaza Berlín (5,900 m) – Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m)
Today is a tough day, almost 1,700 meters of vertical awaiting you at considerable altitude. Plaza Berlín is actually the last camp, the place where you push your summit attempt from. Today, you get to walk the same route that will be completed in three streches during the coming days. But, the acclimating trips so far have been quite useful in getting you fit for these altitudes, so you shouldn’t have serious problems tackling this last preparatory ascent.
Day 9: Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m) – Plaza Canada (4,910 m)
Expect to pack a heavy backpack today, as you need to prepare for up to 5-6 days on the mountain, away from base camp. (You can hire porters on the spot if you want to.) Expect a 6-hour climb to Plaza Canada. As this area used to be a mine, the place is full of dust. The afternoon allows for several hours of rest.
Day 10: Plaza Canada (4,910 m) – Nido de Condóres (5,380 m)
Nido de Condóres, or Condors’ nest, gets its name from a dent on a big plateau offering extraordinary views. The dent in the plateau is a perfect place to pitch your tent. You start out early in order to get a good spot in “the Nest”.
Day 11: Nido de Condóres (5,380 m) – Plaza Berlín (5,900 m)
Plaza Berlín is the high camp, which is reached via a short but steep section. Here at 5,900 meters, sleeping is quite difficult and you’ll be grateful for having brought along a good, warm sleeping bag, as the temperatures here may drop to -20 degress Celsius.
Day 12: Summiting! Plaza Berlín (5,900 m) – Aconcagua (6,962 m) – Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m)
Wakey wakey at 3 AM, as you’ll need time to hit 1,000 meters vertical up and descend back down to the BC. Above 6,200, the dreaded Viento Blanco may hit, which is bad news weatherwise – high winds, low visibility. Technically, this isn’t a difficult section. Some steeper parts may get icy, and, in this case, you’ll adhere to fixed ropes and crampons.
The summiting of this monstrous peak is amazing and hard to put into words. You probably will not spend a great amount of time on the summit, just a quick 20-minute break. You’ll be shooting for Plaza de Mulas on your way down, but you can stop to sleep higher if you’ve lost time on your summit bid.
Days 13-14: Reserve for bad weather
In case things don’t go according to the above plan, here are two days in reserve, maximizing your chance to summit.
Day 15: Plaza de Mulas (4,260 m) – Puente del Inca (2,750 m)
Your descent down to the valley. At Puente del Inca, you’ll really appreciate the thermal bath after this huge mountain.
Day 16: Trip back to Mendoza
The bus ride back to Mendoza will take a little less time than your way here.
Day 17: Depart Home
Equipment and Info
Details on what to bring and what not to bring are available once you enquire on the form below. We’re looking forward to getting in touch with you and organizing your Aconcagua ascent.